Well, it’s sad to say folks, but we have reached that point already, Doctor Who‘s season finale is almost upon us *sobs.* “In the Forest of the Night,” marks the debut of writer Frank Cottrell Boyce (who is a screenwriter and author, most known for writing the Opening Ceremony for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and for being a children’s author as well as established screenwriter of TV and film) and director Sheree Folkson (Casanova, The Decoy Bride) on Doctor Who. “In the Forest of the Night,” was the episode I was least looking forward to this season, because the idea of trees attacking the Earth sounded too reminiscent of M. Night Shyamalan’s 2008 unintentional comedy film, The Happening. Despite my feelings, I went into this episode with a “the glass is half-full” mentality, and was surprised to find that I did not hate this episode! Okay let’s get into the episode!
*WARNING MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD*
Okay, so the episode opens with a young girl running through the forest and eventually finding The Doctor’s TARDIS. The girl knocks on The TARDIS doors and when The Doctor answers, she asks if he is The Doctor. The Doctor lets the little girl into The TARDIS describing it as a can of coke that looks tiny but has this much sugar in it! (spreading his arms out during the process haha) The Doctor then asks the little girl how she found him, and she says “Miss” told her that he could help her. The Doctor assumes the little girl means Clara and begins to describe Clara in hilarious detail, mentioning her tiny body and wide face lol.
The Doctor begins to fly The TARDIS to Trafalgar Square and when he looks outside he notices it is forest and trees and assumes that The TARDIS didn’t land in the right spot. The little girl tells The Doctor they are in Trafalgar Square and points to a big lion statue and tells him that it’s covered in trees. The camera then moves up and pans out to show us that all of London is covered in trees!
Clara and Danny are watching over some Coal Hill students during a sort of sleep over at The Natural History Museum in London. The Doctor calls Clara to verify what the little girl is telling him, and as some of the students try to leave the museum with Danny, they notice the street is covered in trees! Clara tells the Doctor that the little girl is Maebh Arden (played wonderfully by Abigail Eames) and that she is one of her students. Danny hearing Clara talk to The Doctor becomes upset knowing that Clara has been lying to him. Clara and Danny get into a fight, but eventually reconcile. It soon becomes clear that trees are growing everywhere around the world, not just in London!
Clara, Danny and the students meet up with The Doctor in his TARDIS, and The Doctor believes that some outside force has caused this strange phenomenon and that they are invading the earth. The Doctor finds one of Maebh’s notebooks in the TARDIS with a drawing depicting an angry sun striking down some trees. The Doctor finds out from Clara that a year ago, Maebh’s older sister, Annabel disappeared and she became withdrawn and needed to start taking medication because she was hearing voices in her head. The Doctor realizes that Maebh is in tune with the outside force that caused the trees to grow rapidly and believes that she can communicate with them!
The Doctor and Clara realize Maebh is gone, and go looking for her, while Danny and the students stay on The TARDIS. Maebh is running through the forest waving her hands in front of her face and sees some men wearing protective suits trying to burn down the trees (which cannot be burnt for some reason) believing them to be a threat. Maebh runs away from the men and leaves some of her possessions behind, so that she can be followed. The Doctor and Clara run into the men in protective suits and find out they were sent by some government agency. The Doctor explains to Clara that Maebh’s drawing is depicting a solar flare (much like the one in “Time Heist”) that is headed straight for the earth!
After some encounters with wolves and a tiger (which Danny stops from attacking Clara and The Doctor), The Doctor, Clara, Danny and the students find Maebh. The Doctor asks Maebh why he is waving her hands and realizes that Maebh can see the creatures and adjusts the local gravity with his Sonic Screwdriver, revealing bright, glowing, fairy-like creatures! The creatures began speaking through Maebh and reveal that they have existed since the beginning and will exist until the end, and that they are responsible for the trees growing so fast. The Doctor adjusts the gravity at the request of the creatures who say they are in pain and the creatures disappear.
The Doctor begins to think and comes to the conclusion that the earth is doomed and that there is nothing he can do (yikes). Clara and The Doctor return to his TARDIS and Clara says they can try to save as many people as they can, but the Doctor says that he can save her. Clara refuses to leave Danny and become the last of her species (Oh how interesting!) and is willing to die along with everyone else on earth. The Doctor leaves in his TARDIS while Clara, Danny and the students begin to walk. The Doctor is in his TARDIS when a realization hits him when he is looking at an image of the solar flare on his scanner!
The Doctor returns to London and gets Clara, Danny and the students to follow him into the TARDIS! The Doctor explains that the trees are not the earth’s enemy, but their friend! He goes on to say that those creatures that Maebh was communicating with grew the trees to create enough oxygen to stop the solar flare from destroying earth! Danny mentions that a government group called COBR is using some kind of defoliating agent to remove the leaves from the trees, making it easier to burn. The Doctor opens up all cellular communication and allows Maebh to read a message (which all the students helped her write) to all of Earth. Maebh tells everyone not to harm the trees and that they are there to help and for her sister Annabel to return home. Once Maebh finishes her message, The Doctor returns Clara, Danny and the students to London. Clara asks Danny to join her in seeing the solar flare (which will hit earth, but not harm it in anyway) telling him of the wonders there are to see through travelling in time and space. Danny says he will return the children home and tells Clara that there are wonders to see here on earth (wow, someone who doesn’t want to travel in the TARDIS that’s new!)
Clara joins The Doctor in the TARDIS and they watch as the solar flare hits earth but dissipates as the oxygen from the trees protects the earth’s atmosphere. At the same time, Missy is seen witnessing the event unfold on her Tablet/Ipad and says that she is surprised at the end results, smiling creepily. Perhaps she was behind the solar flare, hmmm, very interesting indeed.
Clara and The Doctor watch the trees disappear from the balcony of her apartment and The Doctor tells Clara that the human race will forget this day even happened, as they did that last couple times it happened.
Maebh and her mother are returning home when those creatures (presumably only seen by Maebh) appear around a bush and the bush disappears revealing Maebh’s sister Annabel ending the episode.
What I liked:
Seeing The Twelfth Doctor acting really nice and kind to Maebh.
Finding out the trees were not invading the Earth, and having an alien that wasn’t a villain for a change.
Danny being proactive and saving The Doctor and Clara yet again!
Maebh, and her whole character, and how she connected to the overall plot.
Danny finding out that Clara was lying to him about not travelling with The Doctor anymore.
Missy’s appearance at the end of the episode and the reveal that she was watching the episode’s events unfold yet again. I cannot take it anymore, I must know who she is!!!!
“The Next Time” Trailer at the end of the episode! OMG! This finale is going to be Legen, wait for it, Dary! Legendary! (brownie points if you got that reference)
What I disliked:
The resolution and the episode ending with Maebh’s sister returning. The episode would have served itself better to end with Missy being surprised at how the events of the episode were resolved.
The overall plot it felt like a big commentary on being an environmentalist (tree hugger).
Some of the students from Coal Hill, they were very annoying at times.
The Doctor saying that humanity will forget the Earth being covered in trees. I’m sorry, but I think I would remember a strange phenomenon like that!
Overall, the episode was okay, and I wasn’t expecting much out of it to begin with. Peter Capaldi was excellent as always and Abigail Eames was great and her dynamic with Peter Capaldi was great too!
MY FINAL RATING IS 7/10
What about you? Did you enjoy “In the Forest of the Night?” Are you intrigued as to who Missy is and what her plans are? Are you looking forward to the two-part finale starting this Saturday? Whatever your thoughts let me know!